Blackwater and Privatization

By Seth Freed Wessler Oct 05, 2007

I was thinking of hiring a Blackwater security guard. I thought it might be nice to have a mercenary at my front door, just in case. The story about Blackwater USA is this absurd. Unfortunately, Blackwater is not in a literary tool in a Camus novel. But the deep reality of Blackwater is even deeper than most media have made it seem. Blackwater is not a momentary lapse in the judgment of this administration. Rather, the use of private security firms points to a larger structural and philosophical menace in American politics and to life in general: total privatization. Privatization has become commonplace and, as Blackwater makes so very clear, it kills people. We might recall (though most will not) that Blackwater itself has been used before by the United States, in the United States, in New Orleans. Jordan Flaherty wrote about it several years back in ColorLines. The murderous quality of privatization does not just erupt in the shootings of people of color all over the planet, though; it also seeps like a slow poison into the people’s lives in the most basic ways. Bush’s veto of the children’s health program is the other face of the privatization monster. Rather than shooting people, Bush has abandoned people, disproportionately people of color, to lives without recourse to basic services. It will continue to be people of color who get hit hardest by this plague.